[October 16, 2015] The Democratic candidates for U.S. President debated at their first televised appearance of 2015 this past Tuesday. Just as I had done with the Republican debates, I rounded up a few folks for my senior leadership analysis to gave some insights into how successful the candidates conducted themselves. Remember that senior leader views will diverge from political pundits and the common view on who won the debate and how they performed.
CNN and Facebook sponsored the event with CNN’s Anderson Cooper moderating. There were five candidates on stage which certainly made an analysis easier when compared to the 11 of the Republicans. Those senior leaders who watched the entire debate and offered their personal opinions will not, of course, have their identities reveled because of their employment.1
The Democratic debate was a mix of debate and responding to questions from Cooper. It did provide a starting point from which to draw indicators of senior leadership and this will be our focus here at this blog whenever analyzing political leaders.
A common subject matter that each senior leader expressed to me was that there was an eagerness of each candidate to stake out a position on what they could “give away” to the citizens of America; like proposals for free college tuition. Bernie Sanders (an Independent but self-described “Socialist Democrat”) and Hillary Clinton were able to dominate the stage but all five of the candidates stayed away from making negative remarks about each other or about hot-issue constituent groups like illegal immigrants.
There were also three takeaways:
- The focus was clearly toward domestic issues, like gun control, and much less on foreign policy and the ramifications of issues like terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, and the worsening conditions in the Middle East – a major oversight. It is not so surprising that a socialist could perform so well among Democrats. However, the history of the failure of socialism is stark. Among senior leaders it will never sell but younger voters will find it hard to resist (see more here and here).
- There was some pandering to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, to illegal immigrants, and to each candidates’ far-left base of reliable voters. This meant some back and forth on domestic issues and was one of the few moments where some increased understanding of the candidates could be ferreted out. This showed a lack of moral courage.
- Little was said about the scandals in the Clinton camp (some call them simply controversies). In particular no one directly challenged Clinton about the problem she’s experiencing on her improper use of emails while Secretary of State. To Democrats this is purely a partisan issue and it elicited the biggest applause for the night by Sanders.
While television ratings don’t mean much at this stage, when contrasted to the Republican debates that had a much higher viewing this probably means less excitement in voters for what the Democrats stand for and represents lower energy they are generating. Democratic leaders at this stage of the political campaign process need a little more oomph.
Democrats should consider increasing the number of debates for their candidates. More is better for a host of reasons. Foremost it gives voters a clearer distinction between those running for President, helps solidify the policy positions of the candidates, and makes the candidates more resilient.
Who won the debate? The question should be who was more popular. For our senior leaders it was Sanders who “won” because he sounded more genuine and passionate.
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- Of the 10, six are current military officers, two senior officials in commercial companies, one current CEO, and one senior manager from a non-profit organization. Seven of them were analysis I’d asked in my previous analyses. My question to them was the same for the Republican debate, “Can you tell me your thoughts about any of these men or woman if they were to be elected President of the United States.” They were to consider any information they have about the candidates but were to restrict themselves to the debate as the sole source of opinions.
[Disclaimer] I have no affiliation with any presidential candidate, nor do any of my relatives. I’m a registered Republican with a history of voting. The views here are mine and mine alone and I am responsible for any errors contained in my blog.